Futschikato / Fuji Flush

Friedemann Friese
3 - 8
7 - 199
InteractionComponents & Design

[pullshow/]And here it is already, our first review of a 2016 Essen release. It’s a light game, of course, we didn’t have time to properly test anything heavier. It’s so light, in fact, that the rules are shorter than some of our reviews. And that’s not only because I talk too much. The game I’m talking about is Friedemann Friese’s Futschikato, or Fuji Flush in the English, and French/Spanish edition. Both names make equally little sense to non-German speakers. There is nothing about Mount Fuji in this game, and futschikato is a cute bit of German slang that I doubt you’ll learn in German classes anywhere in the word. Something that is futschikato is gone, destroyed, lost forever, not coming back.

Play until they’re futschikato – The Rules

The name is thus very appropriate because Futschikato is a shedding game, a card game that you win by ridding yourself of all your cards first. You want them to be gone. Shedding games are usually simple games that you play in just a few minutes, and Futschikato is no exception. You do exactly one thing on your turn: put a card from your hand on the table in front of you. If it’s still there when you start your next turn you discard it without drawing a replacement and are one step closer to victory.

Big Bully
Big Bully

But if another player plays a card with a higher value than yours, then you have to discard it immediately and draw a replacement. That is when the rules say your card is futschikato. It is perfectly okay to play a card with a lower value when a higher one is already on the table, you only have to discard and draw when a new, higher card is played.

So far Futschikato would be incredibly boring, and Friedemann Friese is not known for making boring games. There is one little detail still missing. Cards of the same value are added together. Imagine you just played the 20, the single highest card in the game, and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. The next player plays a 7 and you just grin. Such a puny card is no threat to your superior power. The next player plays another 7 and your grin is not quite so big any more. You’re starting to be nervous. Sweat is rolling down your neck. And then the next player plays the third 7. That’s a total of 21 and your mighty 20 is defeated by inferior cards ganging up.

The distribution of card values makes sure that you can rarely feel safe. The values from 16 to 20 are only in the deck once, others are more common the lower their value is. Besides beating an opponent’s high card with low cards teaming up, you don’t really need another reason to work with other players. That’s so much fun already. But there is another reason, anyway. When one card of a value completes its round and can be discarded, then all other cards of the same value are immediately discarded as well. Their owners don’t draw a replacement, either. When that happens and it was the last card for more than one player, they all share the victory. And those are actually all the rules.

Should it stay or should it be futschikato – The Verdict

It’s a side effect of the core mechanic that high cards are more powerful the fewer players there are. When there are five other players, the chances that they can beat your high card together are naturally better than with only two opponents. That’s why Futschikato is one of those games that are strictly better with more players. It’s fun with three or four, but it really starts to be great with five or more.

What the fox fears most is an alliance of the chickens
What the fox fears most is an alliance of the chickens

Futschikato is not a game you play to exercise your strategy muscles. There are some tactical considerations in choosing a card to play, but in the end what you need is good, old-fashioned luck. Futschikato is a game you play while waiting for others to finish their longer games. Or with some drink. Or possibly after playing Pathfinder for eight hours straight and then having a huge dinner, so no one wants to go home quite yet. There are many situations where Futschikato fits in, but is it fun enough to play? To answer that, here are some quotes from when we played after that Pathfinder session, and after some rounds of Futschikato had already happened.

  • “Okay, one more, then I go.”
  • “One more, then I really have to go.”
  • “That was too short, that counts only as half a game. Deal those cards.”
  • “I really should go, but I can do one more.”

That’s really all you need to know, isn’t it? You’ll want to keep playing. Futschikato is fiendishly fun because rounds are quick, you never wait for your turn and you can never be sure of anything. No matter how good your card is, the others can beat it together. That keeps the game tense and emotional at all times. [pullthis]You go from cheers of success to groans of defeat in seconds[/pullthis], and that’s really all I want from a game like this.

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